Microsoft has taken to a blog post today to remind us all of the company's promises made just a few short weeks ago and to formally introduce Windows 8.1 with Bing edition.
Reminder: WIMBoot announced as part of the Windows 8.1 Update 1 rollout, enables manufacturers to preload a version of Windows that takes up less space and requires less resources, allowing for lower cost devices because 1GB of memory and 16GB of storage should be enough. (P.S. WIMBoot deployments will be covered by none other than Michael Niehaus at IT/Dev Connections in September).
Reminder: On day 1 of Build 2014, Microsoft announced Windows at no cost for hardware partners producing smartphones and tablets with screen sizes of 9-inches or smaller.
Bringing it together: As part of the no cost, or lower cost, Windows, Microsoft is introducing a new edition of Windows, called Windows 8.1 with Bing and many of the coming low cost devices will come with this preinstalled. Windows 8.1 with Bing is a version of Windows 8.1, installed using WIMBoot, that comes with Bing provided as the default searching engine in Internet Explorer. To avoid the antitrust issues of the past, customers will be able to alter the default search provider, but Microsoft hopes they don't. Bing value and function has grown significantly, and with Cortana rumored to release for Windows 8.1 (already available in beta for Windows Phone 8.1), customers should be able to stick with Bing and have a much better experience that with the "other guy."
Many of the new devices (primarily tablets) will also come with Office preinstalled, or a one-year subscription to.
So, Microsoft is working on fixing the low cost device issue that continues to plague an entire industry trying to compete against cheap Android devices. However, it's interesting to hear this today just after watching the Surface Pro 3 announcement earlier this week and knowing that the latest rev of Surface is going to be just as pricey.